Kelly Izdihar Crosby has had some pretty big challenges in life, from losing her job due to the GFC to losing her home from hurricane Katrina. She took these challenges as opportunities which helped her to pursue the art she is producing today. She shares some of her story and inspirations with us here.
Tell us a bit about yourself (location, where you grew up, what you studied/are studying, professional affiliations, your story, interesting facts)
I’m a multi-media painter and writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. I studied fine arts at the University of New Orleans. I received my Bachelor’s degree in 2002. I went back to get my Master’s degree in arts administration, which I received in 2007.
I was a life-long resident of New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina forced us to relocate to Atlanta in 2005, where I have lived off and on ever since. The Atlanta Muslim community is awesome! There is so much life and activism here and I feel blessed to be in this part of the Southern United States.
What inspired you to start exploring your creative talents?
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved the arts. I loved drawing as a child and I learned how to paint as a young student in a state sponsored arts program. It’s very intuitive and comes natural to me. It’s almost like breathing.
What was the pivotal point at which you decided to pursue art as your career? Were there any challenges/doubts you had to overcome?
My pivotal point came during the economic breakdown of 2008. I was living in Dubai at the time, with a good paying job. I was very comfortable. All that changed when I was laid off and had to return to the States in 2011. I had to start my professional life all over again—from zero.
It was extremely difficult to find any work in any field. My safety net of the “nice office job” was pulled out from under me. So I really saw no other choice than to focus on my art. I had no excuses to hold me back. I could no longer say pursuing an art career was impractical because all the “safe, practical” jobs had dried up. Plus, I had a little success as an artist living in Dubai, so I figured that I needed to push through my insecurities and follow my artistic heart.
When you’re not working on your art/studio, what do you do with your time?
I spend time doing freelance writing for Muslim publications like Azizah Magazine and the Halal Consumer. I also love to write poetry and perform at spoken word events. I love to read and hang out with my friends. I also belong to various arts groups like C4 Atlanta and African Americans for the Arts.
What is your 5-year goal?
My five-year goal is to be a thriving arts entrepreneur with my own arts business. I consider myself an arts advocate and activist so I’m planning some local beautification projects within the local Muslim community. I would also like to become more proficient in Arabic and Qur’anic studies.
Who inspires you the most?
At the moment, my current wealth of inspiration comes from my Muslim sisters. I even started a series of work highlighting our diversity and strength. I’m inspired by Muslim women who are doing such amazing work around the globe. Whether it is fighting for women’s rights or interracial dialogue, we are in the front lines with Islam as our spiritual battle shield. I’m also inspired by Muslim women’s fashion and we are using our faith to creativity express ourselves.
How do you deal with creative block?
I’ve never dealt with creative block, per se. However, if I’m fishing for ideas I love to research art online. In this regard, Google is your friend. I also go to the library and check out books on various Western art movements and Islamic architecture.
Check out Kelly’s profile.